The Tamil Nadu government schools helpline number ‘14417’ has recorded a manifold increase in calls after the suicide of a plus two student of Coimbatore, allegedly following a sexually assault by her teacher.
According to the counsellors in the school helpline, they are receiving around 600 calls per day while it was only 150 to 200 in the earlier days.
The counsellors said that most of the calls are regarding legal measures to be taken if sexual harassment takes place in school and both parents and students are calling in large numbers on a day-to-day basis.
A counsellor who is with the school helpline number ‘14417’ since its inception, told IANS: “The recent suicide of a Coimbatore girl after allegedly being sexually assaulted by her teacher has triggered the number of calls to our helpline. We are trying our best to give proper counselling to both parents and students and to remove their apprehensions.”
She, however, said that most of the parents are worried and regularly want answers on the legal measures to be taken if harassment takes place at school.
The counsellors said that this was a clear indication of the parents wanting legal recourse if something happens to their child in school.
The 24×7 school helpline has nine counsellors who work round the clock in shift and generally, the calls are received by the response team. The response team transfers the calls to the counsellors based on the nature of the case.
The response team will transfer the calls to the counsellors based on the importance of the call and if it is a sexual harassment case or child abuse case.
Counsellors are of the opinion that another area where they get the calls are on the teachers beating the students and the cases are forwarded to the District CEOs.
Dr. Vasudevan Ranganathan, a psychologist with a leading hospital in Chennai, told IANS: “Counselling is an absolute necessity and if students and their parents speak to trained counsellors most of them are relieved and in cases related to legal recourse they are getting proper information which helps both the students and parents.
“The increase in number of calls is a clear indicator that students are having problems but they are resorting to scientific recourse and is a good sign.”